PHOENIX - "Social security is a Ponzi scheme." Those words came from a republican front-runner for the presidential nomination.
Texas Governor Rick Perry had this exchange with Mitt Romney during the Wednesday night debate.
"It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 to 30 years old,” Perry said. “You're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with social security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids and it's not right."
"The governor says states ought to be able to opt out of social security,” Romney fired back. “Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing social security, but who's committed to saving social security."
A lot of people in the Valley are talking about this. Some are nodding their heads in agreement with Perry while others are worried about losing that check but most believe they can't rely on government to fund their retirement.
Sun Valley Quilts is a busy place where people entering their golden years express themselves by manipulating colorful material on thread.
Sandra Branjord is the teacher who welcomes the gatherings where talk often turns to politics, and this day, social security.
“You can't keep taking out more than is coming in and now,” Branjord said. “People are living longer. People are going to have to start putting away because they are not going to get as much as we do.”
None of them worry about the system in their lifetime. Diane Kucera even thinks it will survive, but it won't be the same.
“It's going to be there,” Kucera said. “I have no doubt it's going to be there. It's just what we're going to get back for our dollar.”
For generations, social security has been part of the fabric of American life, but if you talk to someone under 50 years old, they see that fabric is coming unraveled.
Jose Alverez owns a restaurant a few doors away where he and his wife feed people traditional Mexican fare and wonder about their financial future.
“Personally I think it is going to be gone by the time I need to retrieve it,” Alvarez said. “I know my children probably won't have it.”
Alvarez has little faith in politicians to protect the system that keeps older generations spending money in his Sun City restaurant. He plans to look out for himself.
“Can't rely on the government right now,” Alvarez said. “We need to take advice from old folks here and put it under the mattress.”
Trustees estimate social security will be spending more money than it brings in by the end of this decade.